ExTe began its operations with a classic agricultural product. That was back in 1898. A.E Sandstedt & Söner Smidesverkstad, as the company was called in those days, began mass-producing its harrow. A product designed to meet agricultural needs of the day and the starting point for ExTe’s growth and rise to a position as the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of timber bunks and automatic tensioners.
The first product that led the company’s operations into the forestry transport industry was the horse-drawn timber sledge, the snowmobile of the time. The timber was dragged from where it was felled to the track and then loaded onto the timber wagons – the equivalent of today’s timber trucks. The timber was transported to lakes and rivers where it was unloaded for rafting to sawmills and pulp plants.
In the 1920s, the distance between felling and the rivers became greater. Transportation of timber by truck increased steadily. And then the first timber bunks were developed.
The idea was to release the stakes on one side of the truck and let the timber roll down into the water. Two men had to hit the latch tongues with sledgehammers to release the stakes on each stack. They then had to run quickly out the way to avoid getting crushed by the timber.
Another problem in those days was the actual process of loading the timber. It usually took two or three men to drive and load the horse and wagon. The timber was loaded entirely by hand. The first wire cranes came into use in the 1950s.
From the 1950s onwards, timber driving on rivers gradually went into decline and transportation by truck became the norm. There became a great demand for new, modern timber bunks and other equipment for the transportation of timber by road. The safety of the truck drivers came into focus.
The Excenter bunk with telescopic stakes was developed in the late 1950s. This made light work of lowering the stakes. This innovation gave rise to the name ExTe (Excenter and Telescope).
The 1960s brought new design concepts for timber bunks. Up until now, the idea had been to release the stakes and let the timber roll off the trucks and down into the water. New methods of unloading meant that timber was now lifted off by trucks and cranes and this led to the development the modern timber bunk with permanent stakes.
ExTe’s first, modern timber bunk was the 144 bunk which came into commercial use in the late 60s. The versatile 144 bunk is still a major export product for ExTe today.
In the early to mid 70s, ExTe began a systematic strategy for making inroads into the European market. It was the start of a highly successful export business that now covers all continents.
In 1971, ExTe put its innovative development to the real test. It unveiled the first aluminium bunk, the ExTe Aluminium. It was lightweight, flexible and coped perfectly well with the demands that loading, transportation and unloading entail.
However, the idea had come a little too early. The market was not ready for such drastic changes. "Lightweight aluminium bunks will never stand the strain of demanding forestry transport” was a common and oft-repeated opinion. But by 1974-75, aluminium bunks had made their breakthrough with the ALU 340, 360 and 390.
Using its experience of the 106 and 109 bunks from the 1980s, ExTe launched the C40, C60 and C90 in the early 1990s. This series of combination bunks was much appreciated by hauliers. These were robust, hard-wearing bunks with steel frames and aluminium stakes. Some timber vehicles still use C bunks today.
In 2002, ExTe launched a new generation of combination bunks, the E 4, E 6, E 9 and E 12, which were a major success. The E bunks are still the lightest combination bunks available, with steel frames and aluminium stakes.
When the discussion about weights of loads really took off in Sweden in the early 2000s, ExTe was already well ahead with its development of the new generation of aluminium bunks. In 2005, it launched the world’s lightest timber bunks, the A series. Within a couple of years, the A bunks were the firm favourite of timber hauliers and the demand for the product exceeded all forecasts.
ExTe has also developed timber bunks for the transportation of timber by rail. ExTe has supplied tens of thousands of Maxi stakes, Wood and SR bunks to the Scandinavian, German and British railways.
Over the years, ExTe’s success has created resources and opportunities to invest in the development of new and even safer load security systems. The Com 90, which ExTe began developing in the mid 1990s, is one example of innovative solutions. It allows the driver to operate bunks and secure the loads by remote control.
Today, the Com 90 is an established system on the market.